India got its first equestrian participant at the Olympics for 20 years when Fouaad Mirza qualified for the Tokyo Olympics back in January, but his dream debut has to wait another year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
However, the postponement gives the Indian equestrian the chance to probably fulfil another aim of his.
“I also had some other goals of trying to compete at the five-star level, it is a level above the Olympics which is four-star,” Fouaad Mirza told the Hindustan Times.
“I had to hold off that goal because I had to save my horses for the Olympic Games. Now that there is a little bit more time, I could try to achieve the goal to compete at a five-star.”
His berth at the Tokyo Olympics is secure with the IOC declaring that athletes who have already qualified would keep their places, but the 27-year-old feels that even if the qualifying had to be re-done, it would not be possible with equestrian.
“I had heard something that they might run the entire qualification procedure again. But I feel that would be quite difficult especially in our sport because firstly we don’t know exactly when this season will start again,” he said.
“Our competition season starts in April and ends in October in Europe. In that case if it starts in eight months, the season is over by then and there is no chance of initiating the procedure again. I think, at least as far as equestrian sport is concerned, they would not be able to run the entire qualification procedure again.”
A bittersweet moment
While two silver medals at the Asian Games in 2018 was a big deal for the Indian equestrian, the Games present a higher challenge and it was something Fouaad Mirza was looking forward to. However, there is also a positive side to the story.
“It is a bittersweet moment. Seigneur Medicott (the horse with which he won the silvers), got injured last year and this gives him ample time to recover and run at the Tokyo Olympics. Also, Dajara 4, a newly acquired, younger horse will have more time to develop,” he had revealed to the Olympic Channel.
The Indian equestrian is currently in Germany, where he has been training with Sandra Auffarth and will be looking to keep himself and his horses in the best shape possible before the Tokyo Olympics roll around.